Saturday, October 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Where’s good old Kabuliwala?

Not long ago the Afghans were a regular part of our country and culture. The ubiquitous Kabuliwala who brought dry fruits, the itinerant money-lender who provided small but hard loans, helping us out in times of need, all these have been forgotten in our celebrations of the technical awfulness of the Americans. Memories of those good times are obviously quite short and easily overwhelmed by the might of the Empire.

Amidst such celebrations let us also spare a thought for the people of Afghanistan. Of the 2.2 crore population of Afghanistan, 45 lakh live outside the country on the dole in Pakistan and India. Food production in the country has gone down by over 30 per cent in the past five years as a result of which about 38 lakh still living in Afghanistan have no, repeat, no source of food, other than the handouts being given to them by the United Nations. Even this food is many times taken away by the armed militias of the Taliban who themselves are running short of food.

More than 90 per cent of all children, irrespective of class, are estimated to be under-nourished, ensuring that an entire generation of Afghan nationals will suffer from diseases and a shortened life in the coming decades.



 

Of the ruling oligarchy, the Taliban, some 40 per cent are actually Pakistanis, sponsored and trained, it is said, by the American CIA. The terrorists that they hide in their mountainous strongholds are Arabs and Africans.

So the world community had decided to bomb the Afghan people out of existence. Bravo!

M. RAJIVLOCHAN, Department of History, PU, Chandigarh

Tit for tat

Apropos “India must take war to doorstep of enemy”, I totally agree with the views of Air Marshal PP Singh that the USA may not go beyond telling Pakistan to stop abetting terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir. The USA may hesitate to say even this to Pakistan, after Laden is captured and fall of Talibans because the USA will side with Pakistan for obvious reasons. The situation will turn more dangerous for India.

We totally should rule out that Musharraf will ever stop supporting the terrorist groups to end terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir. He said on TV interview on 8th October that the struggle going on in Jammu & Kashmir has nothing to do with what is happening in Afghanistan. They are struggling for freedom he said.

What is wrong with us? Can’t we struggle for freedom of Pakistan occupied Kashmir? Can’t we resort to counter terrorism? Can’t we strike their assembly in Muzaffrabad and dislodge the Puppet Government. Simply by folding hands and requesting, nothing fruitful will happen. We must take war to their doorstep.

Lion Col G. B. SINGH (retd), Patiala

US initiative

This refers to Sumer Kaul’s article “Proving more loyal than the king” (Sept 24). I fully agree with him that no Indian Prime Minister has ever asked the nation to observe two minutes silence for thousands of deaths caused by terrorism or natural calamities in India as was done for victims of the terrorist attacks on the WTC in New York. But it does not justify the author to call the Indian Government “Pro-West sycophant”.

Afflicted with terrorism for the past two decades, India’s strategic interests lie with the US initiative in wiping out terrorism. India made a well-considered offer of unconditional support to the USA in any punitive action against Afghanistan in the wake of terrorist blasts in America, killing innocent people and causing widespread damage. I think this resolute and swift response from Delhi to join hands with the USA to eradicate terrorism is a welcome change demonstrated by our government.

If America has not accepted the Indian offer in preference to that of Pakistan, it has very valid grounds. The air-fields of Pakistan contiguous to its borders with Afghanistan are more suitable for America to launch offensive sorties to hit the targets in Afghanistan. In fact, America has shown admirable patience in creating a world opinion in its favour and utilising this time for emaculate planning before deciding any course of action to hit Osama bin Laden’s hideouts in Afghanistan.

The USA has declared its resolve to hit terrorist training centres all over the world and will it be prudent to express doubts over the USA striking similar centres in Pok which are playing havoc in Jammu and Kashmir. Currently, the American administration is engaged in working out a strategic plan to track down the warlord, Osama bin Laden, and other perpetrators of violence. Statements emanating from the USA, after the visit of Mr Brijesh Mishra make it amply clear that terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir will also form a part of America’s post-Taliban operations. We have every reason to believe them.

Our mind-set of the cold war period has made us fastidious anti-Americans and our foreign polic has been influenced by such determined die-hards in the South Block who find it difficult to shake off such misgivings. This is high time that we review our policy in the light of the changing world scenario and defend our vital interests more firmly and steadfastly.

Gp Capt H. L. DHAWAN (retd), Pinjore

Era of terrorism

Where has love for the nation gone? Henry Kissinger once said: "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. The public does not fully understand the world into which it is going — leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision. Those leaders who do not are judged failures".

We have leaders who cannot see beyond caste, community, linguistic or minority groups. The social fabric of the country, which for centuries has loved pluralism, is being torn asunder by power-hungry and self-serving leaders. Leaders who are bent upon creating wedges where bridges should have been built.

Sqn Ldr KRISHAN SHARMA (retd), by e-mail

Punjab case: Punjab managed to come out of a bloody era of terrorism by the strong will power and meticulous planning of the government and security forces and least interference of politicians. Though topography may different, the same can happen in Jammu and Kashmir. The place which was called a "paradise on earth" can regain its status mudslinging by political parties both at national and regional levels must stop.

YOGESH DEWAN, Ludhiana

The global cop: We have lost many lives to terrorism in Kashmir. Not a day passes without an act of terror being committed on Indian soil. So when we were shouting that Pakistan was aiding and abetting terrorism, the Global Cop was snoring. Now when the "war" has reached its own backyard, it was woken up with a shudder and is crying foul. How is the value of an American life more than that of an innocent Indian?

VINEET SHARMA, Patiala

In same boat: Since the USA has also suffered from terrorism, a much severe blow in one go, we both happen to sail in the same boat. Incidentally, the enemy happens to be common, the Taliban and Pakistan.

ANAND PRAKASH, ChandigarhTop

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